Research Article
Issue Date: May 1996
Published Online: May 01, 1996
Updated: April 30, 2020
Minimal Forces to Move Patients
Author Affiliations
  • John P. Zelenka, MOT, OTR/L, is Manager, McLeod Work Recovery Center, Occupational Health Services, McLeod Regional Medical Center, PO Box 100551, Florence, South Carolina 29501-0551
  • Andrew E. Floren, MD, MPH, is Medical Director, Occupational Health Services, McLeod Regional Medical Center, Florence, South Carolina
  • J. J. Jordan, PhD, is Professor, Psychology Department, Francis Marion University, Florence, South Carolina
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Research
Research Article   |   May 01, 1996
Minimal Forces to Move Patients
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May 1996, Vol. 50, 354-361.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May 1996, Vol. 50, 354-361.
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Objectives. Health care workers who have patient transfer duties are at risk for back injury. Transferring patients between beds and gurneys is a rigorous pulling task that requires back, leg, and arm strength. This study analyzed the efficiency of commercially available transfer devices, namely a patient roller, patient shifter, and draw sheet.

Method. With the use of one or two force scales attached to each transfer device, the amount of force needed to transfer 15 participants, weighing from 101 lb to 240 lb, back and forth between a bed and a gurney was measured. Ten transfers per device per participant were performed.

Results. The patient roller was superior to the patient shifter and draw sheet in reducing transfer forces. Additionally, gurney-to-bed transfers tended to be more demanding for all transfer devices and for heavier participants.

Conclusions. The patient roller was the most efficient transfer device in moving participants compared with the draw sheet and patient shifter. Transfer forces can be estimated with the use of linear equations, with patient weight, direction of transfer and transfer device as the independent variables. These estimated forces can assist occupational therapists in the returning their injured health care coworkers to patient transfer duties. The results further indicated that high forces are required to transfer patients; therefore, patient-transfer personnel should obtain assistance when moving patients.